September has rolled round. Another year begins. A friend of mine told me that she feels September is like the New Year, without the dreary weather and post-Christmas blues – and I know exactly what she means. It’s also my birth month, so it evokes memories of opening presents and eating cake with family and friends in the late Indian summer sunshine.
Birthday aside, September brings to mind preparation for studies, such as buying stationary and reading course materials. I also think, for the fun of it, about which fictional characters would make excellent study buddies, for their intelligence and devotion to their work. Without further ado, here is my list of fictional women I’d love to study with.
1 Maeve Wiley
To say that Netflix's Sex Education has been popular is an understatement. Dealing with many a crucial topic, from pleasure and consent to sexual assault and abortion in a sensitive, accurate way, the show has been streamed by at least 40 million viewers. For various reasons, my favourite character is Maeve Wiley, whose portrayal by Emma Mackey in the show is simply superb.
Fiercely independent and guarded, Maeve appears to be your standard too-cool-for-school rebel, complete with dyed hair, nose ring, eyeliner and cigarettes. One day she witnesses her classmate Otis, whose mother happens to be a sex therapist, reassuring another student who laments his inability to orgasm. Impressed by Otis' manner, Maeve proposes they run their own sex therapy clinic at the school and split the profits between them.
Underneath the tough-girl exterior, Maeve is revealed to be incredibly clever and compassionate. Having to deal with being abandoned by her drug-addicted mother and slut-shaming from her peers, Maeve is the most dedicated student at Moordale Secondary School. Many of Maeve's on-screen moments revolve around feminist literature in some way. From reading George Eliot's Middlemarch to sleeping with a copy of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman on her bedside table, Maeve's literary knowledge would make her a world-class English Literature student. I think she and I would have many deep discussions about nineteen-century heroines. How many people do you know who have read all of Jane Austen's books before they were twelve?
2 Elle Woods
I think I have an idea of what some of you might be thinking. A fashionista who carries a chihuahua in her bag as a study buddy? For one who carries a Chihuahua in her bag if that's the case, then I highly recommend you watch Legally Blonde and its sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde. Initially signing up for Harvard Law School so as to win back her boyfriend, Elle surprises everybody with just how excellent a student she is. What's more, she never changes to fit into the mould of how one would think lawyers should be, but always remains herself.
Bright, bubbly and a lover of all things pink, Miss Woods gives many of her fellows the impression that she will only be good for posing in the latest outfits and sipping cocktails, prompting one such person to christen her 'Capital Barbie'. They couldn't be more wrong. At least once in each film, Elle's knowledge of fashion and beauty rituals is what cracks the case - simply because she knows things others don't, such as the aftereffect of hair perming and facials. Never overlook the little things.
Elle Woods is a prime example of an inverted 'dumb blonde' stereotype. For an article I wrote about smart blonde characters, see here. Even for students who know next to nothing about legal terms, Elle would be a great friend and I for one would certainly value her cheerful company.
3 Annabeth Chase
Harry Potter isn't the only hero with a clever female sidekick. Enter the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, which concern the demigod children of Greek, Roman and Norse gods. Percy Jackson is the son of sea god Poseidon and a mortal woman. Annabeth Chase is the daughter of Athena and a human professor. Like her mother - none other than the goddess of wisdom and craft - Annabeth is intellectually clever, wise, witty and proud. Passionate about architecture, she definitely deserves a place in any list of smart females (if not at the peak) and is an inspiration for students in many ways.
Annabeth has been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, as have the other demigods, which ensures the ability to read Ancient Greek and excellent battle reflexes. This was inspired by Rick Riordan's own son's diagnosises. Annabeth is therefore a perfect example of how cleverness and learning differences are not entirely separate concepts - in fact, they often go together. There is no one way to be clever, of which Annabeth, Percy and their fellow demigods are proof. In the books, Annabeth has blonde hair, so her character is another inversion of the 'dumb trope', just like Elle Woods.
I could help her with her English, whilst she helped me with my Greek - everybody wins.
4 Hermione Granger
Smart female characters. Quick, who comes to mind? I can nearly guarantee that the first person you thought of was Hermione Granger. I'm not surprised. Regarded as the brightest witch of her age and branded an 'insufferable know-it-all' by a critical Snape, no list of smart females would be complete without Miss Granger.
From solving a potions riddle and brewing a potion to managing her studies with a Time-Turner and founding Dumbledore's Army, Hermione has as active a role as Harry, if not more so. After all, without her, Harry and Ron would almost certainly have not got very far. Even Dumbledore leaves her a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard - in Ancient Runes, requiring Hermione to translate the text into English.
Hermione was a role model for me growing up. Like me, she never had an easy time with the social side of school. Miss Granger taught me that it is okay if you do not necessarily fit in with the popular crowd and that I must never dumb myself down for anyone. In fact, the Wizarding World has various inspiring women, though Hermione will always stand out with her dedication, loyalty and strong sense of friendship.
So there you have it, my list of my favourite fictional study buddies. Who would yours be?